Families of Executed Myanmar Activists Face Harassment, Interrogation

By The Irrawaddy 28 July 2022

The families of four executed pro-democracy activists who were hanged by the junta last weekend were harassed by the regime and pro-military thugs just hours after learning of the shocking executions of their loved ones.

The junta hanged former lawmaker of the National League for Democracy Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, veteran democracy activist Ko Jimmy, and two other men, Ko Aung Thura Zaw and Ko Hla Myo Aung—both from Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township—during the weekend without notifying their families beforehand.

The junta sentenced the four to death under the counter-terrorism law for masterminding the armed struggle against the regime and being involved in anti-junta activities.

Their families only found out about the deaths on Monday when the junta announced the executions had been carried out through its state-run newspapers. Furthermore, the bodies of the victims were not released to the families for funerals.

After the executions, the family members of the executed activists told local and international media they were proud of their loved ones’ sacrifice. Shortly after that, the junta and its thugs began harassing the families.

Junta forces on Tuesday arrested the mother of the youngest of the four executed activists, Ko Aung Thura Zaw, 27.

A source close to the family confirmed that the bereaved mother, Daw Myint Myint Than, was taken from her home at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday and sent to an interrogation center.

On Wednesday, the houses of executed prominent democracy activists Ko Jimmy and Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw in Yangon were attacked by mobs of pro-regime thugs who denounced the two men for their anti-junta activities.

Nearly a dozen junta-backed thugs gathered in front of the apartment of Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw’s parents and the house of the late Ko Jimmy, hurling stones and other projectiles at the buildings, while cursing the parents and relatives of the executed activists for telling the media they were proud of them following the executions.

The attacks came one day after the regime’s spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said at a press conference that those executed were not democracy activists, but killers deserving of their punishment.

“They have committed crimes for which they should have been given death sentences many times,” said Zaw Min Tun.

Junta-appointed local authorities also warned the executed 41-year-old Ko Hla Myo Aung’s family not to hold a funeral and to keep a low profile, according to a source close to his family.

“The junta told the parents of Ko Hla Myo Aung not to hold a funeral and I didn’t see that they had held a funeral for him at his home,” said a source close to the family.

The harassment and attacks of the bereaved families following the executions have drawn widespread attention; outrage and condemnation have poured in from around the world after the junta went ahead with the executions despite appeals for restraint from neighboring and other countries and international organizations.

They were the first executions in the country in around four decades.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned the executions and called for the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Fears are now growing for the other 74 prisoners who have been sentenced to death by the junta for anti-regime activities.